Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A year after shooting, Tom Izzo says it's important to grieve

February 12, 2024
<p>Head Coach Tom Izzo gets emotional while Michigan’s band plays the MSU Shadows to honor the university and the three Spartans lost during the mass shooting on Feb. 13, 2023. The rivalry matchup was MSU’s first game back, the Wolverines ultimately beat the Spartans, 84-72.</p>

Head Coach Tom Izzo gets emotional while Michigan’s band plays the MSU Shadows to honor the university and the three Spartans lost during the mass shooting on Feb. 13, 2023. The rivalry matchup was MSU’s first game back, the Wolverines ultimately beat the Spartans, 84-72.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

The Michigan State community faced an unimaginable tragedy last February. 

A year later, that same community is gearing up to grieve, heal and honor the lives of Alexandria Verner, Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson.

In the wake of the Feb. 13 shooting, head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo was tasked with holding together a community reeling at a vigil on campus just two days after. 

"I was given the honor to speak to our whole student body — and really the whole community — but in our own unique way, everybody can grieve how they grieve," Izzo said during a press conference this past Monday. "That's going to be the case once again tomorrow, and I hope we do grieve. And I hope we do honor them, and I hope we do remember them ... life goes on, and you forget about the things that are really important."

A slew of community figureheads spoke at the vigil a year ago, from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to then-ASMSU President Jo Kovach, but the speech that stood out to many that night was Izzo's. 

Izzo has been a staple at Michigan State since he started as an assistant coach 41 years ago under Jud Heathcote and is known as someone who has continuously cared deeply about the Michigan State community. Through nine university presidents and eight head football coaches, Izzo has been the constant leader for students, alumni and community members to look up to.

When reflecting on his speech at the community vigil almost a year ago, Izzo said that his main focus was to make sure he created a place for everyone to help each other out.

"Going through something like this, in this selfish world we live in — that is pretty siloed if you ask me," Izzo said. "My battle cry, it wasn't a motivational speech. It was different for me. It was all about everybody helping each other to get through tough times. And I think that can be used every day of our lives."

The Spartan men's basketball team is set to travel to take on Penn State on Wednesday night, but what is as evident today as it was last Feb. is that there are bigger aspects to life and appreciation than basketball.

"(The) reality is, tomorrow we're observing the one-year anniversary of the violence that our community had to deal with last Feb. the 13," Izzo said. "I hope everybody pauses and remembers the lives of the three we lost ... Arielle, Brian and Alexandria."

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